Play Like the Pros: 6 Drum Skills You Can Learn From Famous Drummers

6 Drum Skills You Can Learn From Famous Drummers

Whether you’ve just started learning drums or you’ve been playing for years, there’s a lot you can learn from watching some of the most famous drummers.

We know you’re listening to their music, but are you listening to their expertise? Take a page out of the books of these famous drummers, you will definitely learn a thing or two…

Topper Headon (The Clash)

Adaptability: The flexibility to change or be changed in order to fit or work better in a given situation.

Known as “The Human Drum Machine,” due to his impeccable timing and drumming skills, Topper Headon’s is one of the most famous rock drummers. Know for his ability to adapt to the constant stylistic changes of The Clash made their explorations of multiple genres natural and authentic.

Headon provided the backbone to pull the songs together.

Roger Taylor (Queen)

Versatility: Having a wide variety of skills; able to do many different things.

Queen’s Roger Taylor is among famous drummers who possess the skill of versatility. A multi-instrumentalist (drums, keyboard, guitar, bass), singer, and songwriter, Taylor plays an array of styles with ease, from heavy metal to chamber music.

Taylor’s extensive musical history includes: beginnings with a ukulele, a membership in the Truro Cathedral choir, lead singer in the Reaction, singing, songwriting, and drumming in rock band Queen, a solo album (Fun In Space), and finally the formation of his own band, The Cross.

Buddy Rich

Persistence: The firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition.

Billed as the world’s greatest drummer for his power, technique, groove, and speed, jazz drummer Buddy Rich personified his quote, “you only get better by playing,” skillfully playing the drums up until his death in 1987.

The self-taught drummer played through childhood, after his WWII enlistment, and even continued drumming following bypass surgery in 1983.

Stewart Copeland (The Police)

Musicality: Accomplishment in music; awareness or sensitivity to music and rhythm; knowledge of, or talent for music.

“Consider yourself not to be a drummer, but a musician.” These words by Stewart Copeland challenge drummers to immerse themselves in music, not simply the drumming experience.

If you don’t want to learn another instrument – sing. There is so much more to music than just drumming; explore composing, arranging, producing, and more.

Travis Barker (Blink 182)

Energy: The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity; natural enthusiasm and effort; usable power.

Travis Barker’s trademark hyper speed plays homage to this famous drummer’s inspiration: Animal from “The Muppets.” His high-energy vibe comes from putting his entire being into his music.

Layne Redmond

Individuality: The quality that makes one person or thing different from all others.

Already in the minority as a woman in a sea of male drummers, Layne Redmond followed the beat of her own drum.

She did not perform with more well-known pop, rock, or jazz bands, but instead gained notoriety with her specialty: small, hand-held frame drums – the world’s oldest known drums – from the ancient Mediterranean world.

She is not only a drum expert, but a historian, writer, teacher, and mythologist whose work focused on the healing and spiritual aspects of drumming and rhythm.

Make sure to watch for these drum skills when you listen to these famous drummers. What skills have you learned from watching more experienced drummers?

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Photo by ThunderKiss Photography

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